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The time to act is now.

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We’re Walking Through Zoos To Shoot Kangaroos . . .

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My Dream? It’s Been on Hold Till Now

As more women with metabolic conditions become pregnant, the rate of autism increases

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My Fall Into Autistic Regression / Burnout

A Poem and a Story ∙ Life’s a beach. Until it isn’t . . .

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Jibber Jabber about Jibber Jabber

The Monologue — The Autistic Trait That Everyone Hates

Editors: Does this One Illume The Illuminatorian for a Free Room in the Illumitorium? if($reply =~ /^Yes$/i ) {$subtitle = $kicker;}

ArtfullyAutistic.com — The Beauty of Autism Within the Written Word
-= Keira Fulton-Lees, As.D. =-
Artfully Autistic Advocate for Autism
© 2019
ArtfullyAutistic.com
Music by Keira on 
BandCamp
Editorial credit: Christian Bertrand / shutterstock.com

Jibber-jabber about Jibber-Jabber

Prior to watching this excerpt from the Big Bang Theory, I remained as clueless as Sheldon is in this one particular scene, where Penny strikes up the following conversation with Sheldon:

Scene from Series 04 Episode 23 – The Engagement Reaction

Penny: It’s not a big deal, Sheldon. It’s just, ever since Leonard’s been dating Raj’s sister, I’ve had to keep my distance. I don’t get to hear all your jibber-jabber.

Sheldon: Jibber-jabber? I don’t jibber-jabber.

Penny: What are you doing at work these days?

Sheldon: Oh, I’m working on time-dependent backgrounds in string theory, specifically quantum field theory in D-dimensional de Sitter space.

Penny: Alright, come on, even you have to admit that’s jibber-jabber.

Sheldon: Interesting, do you know where the phrase jibber-jabber comes from?

Penny: Oh, my God, you’re about to jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber.

This jibber-jabber they are talking about is a trait called a monologue within the Autistic Community, and it refers to our inclination to communicate to others with long-winded, boring, very detailed, fact-based word-vomit typically about our own interests, all the while with our being totally clueless that those we are delivering this information to don’t want to hear it, resulting in the listener becoming totally bored out of their mind, irritated, impatient, baffled, or even angry

And, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what we are talking about is something that we are particularly interested in – though it commonly is, but the monologue/jibber-jabber could be about virtually anything at all – any topic, any subject, anything, and everything – and as we see from Sheldon in the aforementioned scene from the episode, even jibber-jabber itself. And when we get started, there’s literally no stopping us – we just have an irrepressible, uncontrollable, and unstoppable need to deliver information.

Jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber

Monologue about monologuing

Bazinga! They are one and the same!

Now, I had been a fan of Big Bang since Season One, and I had watched re-runs of this jibber-jabber scene many times before I realized my own tendency to subject others to this jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber/monologue about monologuing. But finally, a sudden sinking feeling of self-awareness hit me – and hit me with one Big Bang the next time I watched it.

The first thing that washed over me was a recent appointment with my previous therapist when I immediately thought to myself:

“Oh my God, what did I put my therapist through!”

I had just remembered a past appointment where I had actually subjected my previous therapist to this jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber/monologue about monologuing just like Sheldon!

But, much worse than the realization that I too was actually capable of jibber-jabber about jibber-jabber, is the realization of the effect that it has on other people. And it’s downright embarrassing.

To illustrate the impact and severe degree of tedium that this jibber-jabber-monologue-about-monologuing can have on other people, just try to read the following excerpt from my Journal without becoming severely exhausted with words.

Photo by Billion Photos on Shutterstock

My Jibber-Jabber about Jibber-Jabber
Monologue about Monologuing

||: …of course it took me till just now to realize that once again I’d fallen into the same atypically driven dialog that drives people away. Like the sun just peeked at me through the darkened skies just enough to catch a vivid glimpse of myself with this almost amnesia-like ability to stir up tidal-waves of relentless self-sabotaging behavior by spontaneously spewing out a torrential storm of too many words.

But there it was again – that singularly one-sided, self-serving, ferociously unnerving, unexpectedly unprompted stream of information unwanted.

Photo by Zdeneh Sasek on Shutterstock

Yet another borderline-dissociative daunting didactic dissonant display of essay – no more than an enigmatic encyclopedic dissertation of meticulous minutia.

Word-after-word-upon-word-after-word – whether heard or unheard, it’s never your turn, so absent of pause it’s painfully flawed – the missing refrain leaves others so drained.

A randomly roaming möbius maze of untimely tangential thinking –a sententiously senseless over-thinking mixed-up milieu of tedious word tinkering with no clue where it’s leading – so factually formal, it’s oh so not so the normal.

Photo by Zdeneh Sasek on Shutterstock

An unrelenting non-stop circuitous trap of over-speaking that defies common reasoning – so abundantly redundant it’s obvious where all the fun went – so insipid and senseless – countless cues of disinterest, yet I’m clueless – I missed it.

So irrepressibly irritative – so self-overrated – the laughably literal meandering of mindlessly monotonous dribble, once again stuck in the middle of an unanswerable riddle.

That gratuitously grating trait that everyone hates – the runaway train of a too-busy brain – the dreaded and regretted – the obnoxiously monotonous monolithic mountain of unnecessary detail delivered in such vehemently voluminous verbosity that it baffles all it befalls – social protocol begone – there’s not one at all, and there’s never enough time for the Autistic Monologue.

Photo by Casimiro PT on Shutterstock

The Monologue. That awkwardly odd Autistic social faux pas — an over scrupulous point-by-point enumerated info-dump loop of ridiculously repetitive rhetoric, shrouded in a ranting possessing a pathology of boundlessly boring banter, rat-a-tat splattered, absent bulls-eye no matter, but still bullets shatter, splatter the page with slight rage, the holes take their toll, row after row, after row, after row?

Peculiar isn’t it? No? Is this not the pitter-patter pondering of pathetically pedantic, frighteningly frantic, dysfunctionally dysprosodic, impossibly pretentious, irrationally iterative, pitifully literal prose that I chose? Or, who knows?

Was it not oh-so awkwardly delivered in a disturbing jibber-jabber jerking caterwauling cadence? Like nails-on-chalking, don’t-stop-keep-on-walking, do you hear yourself talking? Squeakily squawking? And by the way, if I may say: “Who am I to be talking?” Word up indeed!

Photo by Andrew Rybalko on Shutterstock

So, I go see my psych in my jammies, and psyched like I am I hope for a slam. I stayed up all night and I crammed, to stand where I stand, all in my way be damned, and show her just who I am — though still half-asleep, barely able to think, finally ending my speech, the real topic now reached, this now what I seek…

“These symptoms I read, they speak to me. They speak to me and speak to me ever so loudly. They shout at me like they know me, know that I’m lonely, say I’m not the only, as others there are out there somewhere, be it here or be it there, or just anywhere, but it makes me feel good to think: I’m not alone.”

“They don’t know my name, but it sounds like my game. Not just words to reorder in some random order, but of a personality that is mine, like those of my kind, so answer me please: Am I ASD?”

She’s patient with me though I never really know. My words spill out frantically until I run of breath to blow out any more of the words in my head, then she turns and she speaks, as it nothing I’ve said is at all that unique, my words said before, revolved through the door from others before, she responds as if bored, my words now contrite, seem small and so slight, the life has been drained, like teardrops in rain, as if they were lain in a cold and dark plane buried deep in my brain, as deep as they must, then left there to rust, before dawn turned to dusk, they died in the dust.

She says: “You don’t want yet another label do you?”

Photo by Keira

I look at her blankly. I spoke to a wall. It replied back and it spanked me. Still, she doesn’t outrank me. I don’t tell the wall this, but the truth is: I like labels.

Labels identify things. They let me know just what things are — and that means something. Labels are words, and words tell you something too. It’s the exactness that just feels right and makes my world stay in line in a perfect way. Somehow, I feel enabled.

I mean, there are labels on jars, and the bumpers of cars, on booze in the bars, and people that are, and people that aren’t, whoever they are or whoever they aren’t, all prejudice aside, it all just aligns, gives names for my rhymes. And I like rhymes. So read, or why bother? Either way, I feel unlabeled – and even that’s just a label.

So, labels give identity to things; and that’s one thing I lack – an identity. “Who I am” is a hack. A monkey on my back, until it gets sacked, and that’s where it smacks, slaps, and it snaps. It feels so surreal. I don’t know how I feel, which words to steal, to tell what’s real, to only unveil that what’s real to me is not what’s real to you. What do I do? I’m coming unglued, and once again so I lose, this is not what I choose, but there it is.

And there it is again, and again, and again – unmet expectations. Unmet expectations and invalidation. Still, there’s more I have to say. I have no choice, and… 😐|

I wrote the above in my Journal pre-diagnosis while in post-meltdown recovery mode after an exceedingly frustrating and deeply deflating visit with my then-regular therapist.

You might find the above confusing to read – but after a serious meltdown, this is just the way my mind works.

Note: Before I go any further on the topic of how my mind works after a meltdown, I’ll stop myself right here – that’s a typical trigger to prompt me to spontaneously spawn another instance of yet another overlong monologue – I’ll delve into that in another post

In that session with my therapist, she wasn’t listening – likely because I monologued all the listening out of her. I found her terse response odd – after all, it was she who had suggested to me that there was a strong likelihood that I was Autistic. Since my question left me with no real answer, from then on I was dismissive of the subject and it never came up again in therapy with her.

Regretfully, I reluctantly relented – judged, juried, and sentenced to a crime not committed – the glove didn’t fit, but I still took the hit, backed into a corner of Bipolar Disorder misordered.

I resigned to this misdiagnosis for far too long, and it took a serious toll on me. At one point I was prescribed a daily cocktail of 31 heavyweight psych pills a day l leaving me in a pervasive zombie-like state, which resulted in a manifestation of terribly disturbing Tardive Dyskinesia side effects that to this day are still are just too painful for me to think about.

It wasn’t until years later, with a new and very astute therapist, did I get my Bipolar rap sheet expunged. Within the first few sessions, she quickly spotted the obvious Autistic traits that were always there right in the face of all my previous and apparently oblivious psychs and therapists who missed them. I took several preliminary tests in her office and scored nearly as high a score as possible in the “Extremely likely to be Autistic” category.

Fast forward several months later just before Christmas, and I underwent a battery of extensive tests by a Neuropsychologist, which resulted in my final official diagnosis of High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Along with ASD – comorbid conditions of Anxiety, Depression, and ADHD, and I had me an early Christmas stocking chocked full of Mental Health treats!

Since then, it’s been an ongoing struggle with acceptance, but I think I’ve finally reached there. Throughout all my years of wondering why I never really fit in the way others do, I now have an answer – and that’s powerfully enabling.

I’ve always said to myself: “If I can see it, I can fix it”.

While I can’t actually fix Autism per se – I can manage it.

And I can see it now with such vivid optimistic clarity that it gives me hope.

I now have my label, and the truth is:

I still like labels.

And, by the way tell this to the wall…

Sometimes when you suspect ’em, they really are on the Spectrum”

Photo by FGC on Shutterstock

||: …still, there’s more I have to say. I have no choice, and of course it took me till just now to realize… 😐|

ArtfullyAutistic.com — The Beauty of Autism Within the Written Word
-= Keira Fulton-Lees, As.D. =-
Artfully Autistic Advocate for Autism
© 2019
ArtfullyAutistic.com
Music by Keira on 
BandCamp


Jibber Jabber about Jibber Jabber was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Existential Chatter

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How Childhood Jobs Prepared Me for Success as an Autistic Adult

Life lessons every parent should think about for their kids

Shutterstock file photo

I have the good fortune to be a friend of Dr. Temple Grandin. We have a lot in common. We are both autistic, and we share a very similar youth that played a big factor in our adult life. We both started having jobs at a very early age. Temple often talks about her early days, when her job was to greet guests at the door for her mom’s dinner party, and take their coats to hang up. Yes, it was a job. She was given a responsibility to carry out.

Among her numerous other childhood jobs was the one I, too, did for many years — mucking out horse stalls. In conversations with Temple on the phone, we’ve talked about those days of our teenage years spent shoveling out one stall after another. We both love horses and being around them. It was peaceful and it was also a form of therapy. In essence, it was our occupational therapy.

All of the childhood jobs we did prepared us for the day when we’d start our careers. We were used to working, showing up on time, following orders from a boss, figuring out how to get a job done. It was just a regular part of our life. So when the day came to embark into our careers, we really didn’t have to transition into anything. We were already there.

Temple is world-famous for her life and career. She’s beyond amazing! She inspires everyone, autistic or not. I also hope to inspire people with my story and wisdom. I’ve got a lot to offer.

Statistics show that 85% of people on the autism spectrum are unemployed or underemployed. That’s a staggering number. I see this to be a very complex situation with multiple factors. One of those factors can be changed by parents. Getting your kid working! Every little chore you have them do around the house is a job. Having them help you set the table, do laundry, tidy up; it’s all working. Once they become a teenager, jobs that have more responsibility are in order. Cutting lawns in the neighborhood, helping elderly neighbors, or working at a fast-food restaurant can build the foundation for a child’s future in the workforce.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t working. As a young kid, my mom would have me helping her in the kitchen. She’d teach me the art of cooking and baking, and under her close supervision she would give me little jobs to carry out. I would be “assigned” to gather all the ingredients for baking a cake. After I’d assemble everything on the counter, she would stand by me as I followed the recipe and mixed up the batter. Of course safety was always her first concern, so she would use the mixer until I was old enough to be able to safely handle it. Then I’d get to pour the batter into the pan, mom would put it into the oven, she’d take it out, and once cool, I’d put the icing on the cake. I would feel very proud of my accomplishment! I’d be chattering away to her during that whole time, as she was my best friend.

I fell in love with horses around the age of 4. It became one of my Special Interests, one that has sustained my entire life. I desperately wanted to learn to ride. Unfortunately, my parents were unable to afford riding lessons for me. When I was 12, I became a working student at a nearby stable. In return for work, you could earn riding lessons. I became quite proficient at mucking out stalls. The more I shoveled, the more riding time I got. I dreamed of jumping horses over big fences in competition. My dream eventually came true, because by the time I was 16, I was jumping horses over six-foot-high fences in some pretty big shows. It was my hard work and perseverance that got me there.

During all those summers and weekends spent at the stable, I not only mucked out stalls and did other tasks like painting fences, picking rocks out of pastures, emptying trash bins, etc. I was interacting with people, learning to follow orders, knowing the importance of showing up on time, getting a job done, and feeling pride in myself. Little did I know that all of those things were preparing me for my “real” job.

Besides the stable job, once in college I held a variety of other great jobs. I worked as a graphic arts designer at my undergraduate college for the four years I was there. I also worked as a skate guard at a public ice skating arena. I was into ice dancing for a number of years, and because I worked at the arena, it allowed me to get free ice time for practicing. That job also entailed selling tickets at the window for the public skating sessions, making popcorn and hot dogs in the snack shop, and other sundry tasks. Again, these jobs were preparing me for my future.

In 1988 I graduated from Columbia University in New York City with my Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia and embarked on my now 32-year career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I’ve been working full time ever since, in a job that’s not for the faint-of-heart. The operating room is a very fast-paced, ever-changing, high stress environment, loaded with massive sensory violations. Most significantly, as I call it, I’m floating in an ocean of neurotypicals! I would have sunk long ago without all the life experiences of those jobs I’d done in my younger days. I would not have been prepared to interact with people, situations, and the job itself. To date I’ve done over 70,000 anesthetics, and as I’ve carefully calculated, I’ve interacted with over one million people. That’s a lot, particularly for an autistic person.

My specialty areas include anesthesia for neurosurgery, trauma, burns, organ transplants, and orthopedic joint replacement surgery. It’s all highly detailed and complex, just what an autistic person loves.

When I see articles about transitioning from school to work, I wonder why the transition is always such a big deal. I believe work experience should start early and be part of education. Working at a job and all that comes with it should be second nature by the time students graduate. If it isn’t, life will be very stressful, and possibly even unsuccessful. Those 85% of us who are unemployed or underemployed might have had a different story if they were prepared to enter the job market. If you have never worked any kind of job as a kid and teenager, nothing can substitute for that lack of life skills.

Being autistic and working at a career-type job is like going to a foreign country, not speaking their language, and trying to survive. To this day, all these years later, I still feel like a foreigner in a strange land. Yet I’ve built enough experience and “learned the language” enough to stay employed and have a successful career. I know without a doubt in my mind that I would never have made it as an anesthetist if I hadn’t had all my previous jobs.

I hope every parent will recognize the importance of teaching their child the skills to succeed at work. Keeping them sheltered is not helpful, and can set them up for failure. The only way to get skilled at socializing, learning responsibility, and learning to work is by getting out there and working. The more an autistic individual interacts with others, the better they get at it. Therapists, counselors and the like all have their places in helping those on the autism spectrum. But nothing can substitute for real life experiences. Nothing.

Upon completion of school, going out and seeking a job shouldn’t be a first-time experience. Having to learn a new job is stressful enough. If you are prepared ahead of time with years of life experience, you will be able to use all your energy to focus on the job. If you are also having to learn how to interact with people, how to follow orders, and how to get along in the workplace, it may seem insurmountable.

I believe it is a parent’s duty to help prepare their autistic child and also neurotypical children, for the future by giving them chores, then in their teen years getting them out there doing some type of job. Real life experience can only be learned by first-hand experience. Sure, your kid will make blunders. I’ve made plenty, and still do! But I keep going. And they will too. It will be the best “therapy” you can ever give your child. Help them to have a job and be able to support themselves for the rest of their life.

Visit me at www.yourwfpblife.com

Photo by Abraham Nielsen


How Childhood Jobs Prepared Me for Success as an Autistic Adult was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How Horses Became a Form of Therapy for Me Before My Autism Diagnosis

Why horses can be so significant to help special needs children

Photo by Abraham Nielsen

One of my autistic special interests changed the course of my life. I fell in love with horses at the age of 4 after my parents took me for rides on a pony. For 25 cents, they would lead you around the track six times on the pony of your choice. Lots of quarters were spent as they couldn’t get me off that pony. That became the Sunday ritual — take Anita to the pony track and spend half the day there.

Never hearing the word Asperger’s until age 50, then getting diagnosed, I never had any Early Intervention. Actually, I did, only I didn’t know it at the time. The love of pony rides turned into an obsession with horses. As I got older, I desperately wanted riding lessons and a horse of my own. My
parents couldn’t afford either of those, except for an eight-week series of group lessons. That didn’t stop me. When I was 12, I became a working student at a big stable near my home in New Jersey. I earned riding time and lessons by mucking out stalls, painting fences, picking rocks out of the pastures, and cleaning saddles. The more I worked, the more time I got on the horses.

I was an autistic kid (undiagnosed at that time) who was totally awkward, extremely clumsy, and never looked anyone in the eye. As painful as it was, I had no choice but to interact with people. I’d savor every minute in the saddle. I’d focus on the movement of the horse as he’d walk, listening to the cadence of each hoof as it clip-clopped along. I was mesmerized by it all. I would use the time while in the stalls mucking them out to study each horse, observing their behaviors. The horses seemed just as fascinated by me. They would come by me, nuzzle their soft noses against my face, and seem peaceful.

My dream was to jump horses over big fences in competition. I spent every summer, weekend, and holiday at the stable. Horses were my life. And they were also my therapy. They got me out of my shell, interacting with people, learning how to work, learning how to take instruction from others, and dramatically improving my coordination.

I began working my way up the ladder of riding skills. Of course, part of getting on a horse is the possibility of unintentionally coming off the horse! I can still remember the first fall I sustained. The horse had decided he was enjoying the cold weather, took a leap into the air and started
bucking. Off I went, falling on the ground. I was scared because I couldn’t breathe. I felt like a fish out of water. The instructor ran over to me, and she instructed me to try and relax, and that my breath got knocked out of me. She explained that this is normal after a fall, and in a few moments I’ll be OK. She was right. I then calmed down, and a few moments later, I could slowly take a deep breath in. No injuries, just an unexpected experience. I got up, dusted myself off, and we then went over to retrieve the horse who was standing nearby looking bewildered.

I got back on, only this time I focused more intently on my position in the saddle, and gripped my legs more tightly against his sides. Of course I was scared to get back on, but I did it. It was a learning experience. One of many!

Anita Lesko

I continued the lessons, the mucking out stalls, and eventually I reached my dream, riding in jumping competition. I was a working student from age 12 to 21. It all changed my life. All the skills I learned during those years empowered me to have the skills necessary for life, and for sure my career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. It also built my self-confidence. I was a little lost soul when I first started out, then blossomed into what I am today. When I see a horse, I get tears in my eyes, as they all have a special place in my heart.

I purchased my first horse at the age of 29, after graduating from Columbia University with my Master’s in Nurse Anesthesia. The day I received the letter congratulating me on passing my Board exam, I was on a mission to finally get my very own horse. That for sure was one of the highlights of my life. I used to take him to ride in clinics at the United States Equestrian Team’s Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, New Jersey.

Although I no longer ride, I still have horses, three rescues, at home on my farm. They still provide therapy, as it’s peaceful to my soul to simply feed them and watch as they eat their grain then munch on their hay. Looking back over all those years, I see the incredible therapy it provided for me.

Horseback riding is used as therapy for many reasons, and autism can be one of them. I highly encourage parents to consider horse therapy for their autistic child, and any child with special needs. There is a specialized kind of horse therapy called hippotherapy. The American Hippotherapy Association defines it as follows: “The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement to engage sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems to achieve functional outcomes.”

You can read more about this amazing form of therapy on their website at www.theahainc.org.

You can visit me at www.yourwfpblife.com


How Horses Became a Form of Therapy for Me Before My Autism Diagnosis was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Another World

The Perspective ∙ From the Spectrum

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